Archive for the ‘Editors’ Dispatches’ Category

Puzzle Feature: Hink Pinks

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Michael Griffith: Last month Chris Bachelder, may he be thanked and damned, sent me down a rabbit hole by introducing me to Hink Pinks. Chris passed along a most excellent and amusing feature on The Paris Review’s website, a series of nimble and often diabolically difficult examples by Dylan Hicks. I recommend those puzzles highly, and here steal, or rather quote, Hicks’s explanation of the genre:

wobblingoblin“Hink pink is a word game in which synonyms, circumlocution, and micronarratives provide clues for rhyming phrases. In the standard explanatory example, an “overweight feline” is a “fat cat.” Hink pinks on that babyish level aspire to lend vocabulary building an air of fun, but more sophisticated puzzles are sometimes mulled over on road trips, in trenches, and in other settings where boredom and tension might be mellowed, to paraphrase Dryden, by the dull sweets of rhyme. . . . A puzzle of disyllabic components is a hinky pinky, followed with decreasing dignity by hinkily pinkilies, hinklediddle pinklediddles, and hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoos. Even with longer puzzles, however, the goal, almost a mandate, is for each syllable to rhyme perfectly, though this perfection might depend on idiosyncratic stress.”

A few of the puzzles below aspire to Hicksian difficulty, and/or to the lovely epigrammatic density of his cluing (an example of his handiwork: “Hazzard County kingpin keeps track of interdental hygiene,” to which the answer, presumably, is “Boss Hogg’s floss log”). I’ve tried, though, to make at least some of them a bit easier and more accessible for the beginner. This is not a kindness, I admit—more in the spirit of the pusher hawking a gateway drug in the hopes of spreading the misery. As some of you will have witnessed on my Facebook wall a few weeks back, these little puzzles can be addictive. I have repaid Chris B. by visiting upon him a hink pinks fink jinx.)

Below are sixty wee puzzles. I’ve tried to provide a heads-up where there’s a whisper of off rhyme or a slight shift of emphasis. The one consistent exception I’ve allowed to perfect rhyme is that at the center and fulcrum point of the puzzle, there may be a possessive “s.” The answer to “White whale’s home haircutting gizmo,” then, would be “Moby[’s] Flowbee.”

These are hard, and of course no one has the time (or probably the inclination) to wade through all of them, so the prize this time—either a year’s subscription to CR or a year’s extension of a present subscription—will go to the first two people who send at least forty correct answers. We’ll post the answers in a week or so.

I have another sixty nearly ready for the upcoming Fall/Winter issue, as well; we’ll continue to have a puzzle feature in every issue, but not all will be crosswords. And if there’s sufficient interest out there, my plan next month is to do a second web feature in which we offer readers’ hink pinks. If you’re interested in participating in that (making them up can turn obsessive, too, so fair warning), please send your puzzles along to michael[dot]griffith[at]uc.edu.

 

  • What the Vienna Secession painter did to his GTO for the auto show (hink pink)
  • New NFL instant replay tool sponsored by a pioneering hip-hop label (hinky pinky)
  • Featured instrument in alt-country band The Beheaded Queen (hinkily pinkily)
  • Internet discussion board for boosters of an ex-Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate (hinkily pinkily)
  • Puzzlemaster is cruising for a lawsuit by wearing those wee denims (hinky pinky—all rhyme)
  • Yale deconstructionist, pony up what you owe to the self-deprecating comedienne! (hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoo)
  • What golfer Michelle insisted on before she married legendary basketball coach Adolph (hinky pinky)
  • Periods of time Assange’s group devoted to divulging web secrets of ex-Monkee Dolenz (hinkily pinkily)
  • “Friends in Low Places” singer’s metafiction collection (hinky pinky)
  • The Man in Black’s soiree for a Greek elevator-music star (hinkily pinkily)
  • Porous yellow guy’s stint in ‘90s Seattle music (hinky dinky)
  • Wearer of a multicolored belled cap embroidered with an A (hinky pinky)
  • Postgame Nawlins-style sandwich in Mudville (hinky pinky)
  • Poultry Viagra (hinky pinky)
  • ’90s sitcom namesake’s Vulcan-style telepathic linking with Tinkerbell (hinklediddle pinklediddle)
  • Part of a cartoon shark’s contract that requires the studio to have soured unpasteurized milk on hand? (hinkily pinkily)
  • Even on his ambulance stretcher, hipster Sanders diehard has Americanos lined up (hinkily pinkily)
  • Red-haired obstacle-course competitor, in Boston (hinky pinky)
  • Nubbly bedspread of a 1970s songstress who was the former Mrs. Dragon (hinky pinky)
  • Calvin Broadus’ chowder hard-sell (hinky pinky)
  • Basso-voiced villain: “Wayne’s World co-host, adieu!” (hinky pinky)
  • Sharpshooting LA Clipper, first-aid provider to those injured by a current fad dance (hinklediddle pinklediddle)
  • Nora Charles, dump that Gentile! (hinkily pinkily)
  • Herb from WKRP haz buttery pizzeria treats (hinkily pinkily)
  • Superman nemesis who’s paranoid that we’ve all been lied to—LIED TO!—about the birds and the bees (hinkily pinkily)
  • Onetime prop comedian, now policing European polecats (hinkily pinkily)
  • Revolutionary leader since 1959 errs in opening a gourmet bar & grill (hinkily pinkily)
  • Trail mix at sci-fi speed  (hink pink)
  • Elegant appeal a harem-pants-wearing rapper derives from his fermented Korean side dish (hinklediddle pinklediddle)
  • “Why did the chicken have sex with the road?”, e.g. (hinky pinky)
  • Glass receptacle, located in a Tanzanian archipelago, for money to help a former Who’s the Boss? star now down on his luck (hinkily pinkily)
  • NBA’s first great center, on a mountain ramble, snaps photos of mosslike composites with his expensive Japanese camera (hinklediddle pinklediddle—all rhyme)
  • Place to which the viewer’s eye is drawn in a painting of a rustic honky-tonk (hinkily pinkily)
  • Colombian pop star’s exodus from Mecca (hinkily pinkily)
  • “OK, I’m givin’ up. No more saying ‘nevermore.’” (hinky pinky)
  • Mayberry-born Marine’s designer-knockoff glass tube for a Magus’s resin (hinkily pinkily)
  • Widespread terror about a communist plot to make us all look as though we’ve just risen from naps (hinky pinky)
  • Foxy Brown’s canned-meat phobia (hinky pinky)
  • Infamous dognapper’s measles-infected Caddy (hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoo)
  • “Friends in Low Places” singer’s metafiction collection (hinky pinky)
  • Umlaut-happy rock-band frontman’s criminally good bargain on multicolored fabric (hinky pinky)
  • The Man in Black’s soiree for a Greek elevator-music star (hinkily pinkily)
  • The Human Highlight Film is looking for fanatical devotees of the Wonder Twins’ monkey (hinky pinky)
  • What to say to a budding wizard fencing with Gabe Kaplan (hinklediddle pinklediddle)
  • Penny-ante philippic from Ace Frehley or Peter Criss (hinky pinky)
  • Moment of maximum shame for a fooled ice defenseman (hink pink)
  • An Austrian logician goes bad in the fridge (hinky pinky)
  • Archie Leach’s wedding trousers (hinkily pinkily)
  • Exercise monitor exclusively for poststructuralists or their ilk (hinky pinky)
  • White House scandal: President’s sham South American camelid (hinkily pinkily)
  • Murray/Merrill portrayer mildly criticizes instances of Jewish prayer (hinkily pinkily)
  • Von Richthofen, cuttin’ back on his daily pills (hinkily pinkily)
  • Group of trucks hauling 007’s ornamental fish (hinky pinky)
  • Part of Lady Spencer’s tennis outfit, that time at the Kennedy compound (hinkily pinkily)
  • S&M equipment purchasable, in spotted-horse pattern, at 30,000 feet (hinkily pinkily—slight cheat in the rhyme)
  • Result of HMS Beagle naturalist’s high bid on a Bundren child’s flivver (hinkily pinkily)
  • A certain Stalag commander’s springtime sexual idiosyncrasy (hinkily pinkily)
  • Lord Greystoke, forbid custard tarts! (hinky dinky)
  • Ornithologist has snared an icon of 1970s cool (hinkily pinkily)
  • Result of bowdlerizing a famed NYC street photographer’s work to make it safe for children (hinky pinky, all rhyme)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Song Video Premiere!

Friday, May 20th, 2016
David Clay Mettens and Mary Kaiser

David Clay Mettens and Mary Kaiser

Don Bogen: With its score for alto flute, bass clarinet, viola, cello, piano, percussion, and soprano, David Clay Mettens’s setting of Mary Kaiser’s “He Dreams a Mother” in our Summer 2016 issue (just released) is one of the most intricate and haunting pieces in our series of art songs. It’s also the first for which we have a video of the premiere. “Hypnotic” is a word the composer uses several times in the score, and it certainly fits what happened on stage this past April. To watch, click here.

Be sure to check out the subtle performance by All of the Above, with soprano Jilian McGreen and all those varied instruments bringing out the calm yet deeply strange vision in Mary’s poem. The ending is particularly striking. Thanks and congratulations go to the composer, the poet, and the ensemble.

The poem and full score are in the issue.  You can find the other four settings we’ve commissioned to date in the art-song category of the blog.

Enjoy!

Remembering C. D. Wright

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

c-d-wrightDon Bogen: We were saddened to hear of the death last month of our Advisory Board member C. D. Wright. A few days after she passed away, I met my friend the poet C. S. Giscombe at the Creek Monkey Tap House in Martinez, California. Martinez is the kind of town I think C .D. would have enjoyed: small, a little down at heels, and remarkably diverse compared to the pockets of affluence alternating with economic wastelands that mark the San Francisco Bay area and other parts of the country. Its main sources of employment are county business, two hospitals, and an oil refinery. I like it.

Cecil likes the place too. He cycles over the hills from Berkeley when I’m out there, and we meet for beer and a meal before he catches the train back. That evening we drank to C .D.’s memory and talked about her work. Like Cecil, C. D. is a wonderful poet of place, and I’ve often taught his Giscome Road and her Deepstep Come Shining together. But Cecil told me that his favorite was One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, a coffee-table book (if you can use that term for something so insightful and moving) she put together with the photographer Deborah Luster. C. D. was kind enough to give my wife and me a copy of this book a dozen years ago when she was in Cincinnati as Elliston Poet in Residence.

I reread One Big Self after I got back from California, and I know why Cecil admires it. C. D.’s energies moving in all directions, her humor, her deft intelligence, her commitment to everyday lives, including prisoners’, and refusal to treat any type of authority with undue reverence—these are qualities of her poetic voice and her personality. As a poet, she explored things in their full contexts, and she was great fun to spend time with. As far as I know, C. D. never got to Martinez or the Creek Monkey Tap House, but we did share a lively evening at the oldest bar in Cincinnati. That and her glorious poems will have to do.

 

Reading Our Readers

Monday, October 12th, 2015

lightbulbsIt’s Celebrate Our Readers day. Not the readers of our journal (though we are ever so grateful for you), but the diligent and conscientious behind-the-scenes readers of the six thousand plus (and rising!) submissions we receive each year. These intelligent and dedicated humans, who are just as busy as you are and receive no payment for their pains, spend hours every week rendering thoughtful assessments of the random poems and stories, by writers both new and seasoned, that continuously fill their inboxes. Below are a few examples of our readers’ reactions to the work you send our way.

Good poems, but not very inventive or new—except for the last one, which I think does something sort of fresh by reversing the typical depictions of boys/girls and children’s perceptions of gender—but then undercuts itself in the final line. Would like to hear another poet’s thoughts.

*

I feel like this one is on the cusp? The reveal feels kind of like a trick, and there are many disturbing unanswered questions, specifically about character motivation, but it’s beautifully written and interesting and haunting.

*

Well written estranged father-and-son story. Not horribly interesting, though.

*

From this batch, I recommend “O——” for further consideration. The poem deviates and subverts the ekphrastic tradition throughout. At the beginning, it does this via nuance, but by the end the poem has taken the narrative (and the reader!) to a whole other immediate place. It is this immediacy at the end that is most compelling to me, especially in an ekphrastic poem, most of which tend to dwell in the past tense of description.

*

This is not really a literary poem, though it does occasionally exhibit startling word choices. A bit like Jim Morrison, if Jim Morrison were a tanned teen girl in a bathing suit crushing on her boyfriend.

*

Wow, this story hooked me. The author’s use of indirection is superb, and I love the how insistent and forceful the protagonist is when it comes to protecting/maintaining the dignity of symbols (snakes and fish). The dialogue is convincing, the pacing well controlled. Guess what I don’t like? The ending. I sense the writer couldn’t find a way out of the story so concocted a deeply symbolic and ambiguous gesture.

*

Well written, but I find the frame this story uses much less original and interesting than its focus. I don’t know the narrator enough to really feel affected by his lost son. The whole conceit feels contrived in order to give weight to the frame.

*

There are nice observations and images concerning things like lawn mowing and drug stores, but the poet doesn’t do much new or interesting with these images. Adjectives over insight.

*

Story is over 10K words, contains “Track Changes” corrections, and features laborious stretches of description (mountain wilderness and dogs). The piece exhibits no sense of pacing, though there are fleeting moments of mystery / tension.

*

I pass this batch on because I enjoy many of the images and a lot of the wordplay in the first three poems. I’m on the fence overall, but when I’m on the fence with poetry, I figure it’s best to let another set of eyes see it.

*

These are worth further consideration. “S——” introduces a conceit and doesn’t over-indulge in it, rather it stays focused on the emotional resonance of the ending. “O——” made me think of Pablo Neruda’s odes to everyday objects, but with a modern sensibility.

Schiff Awards Finalists and Honorable Mentions

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

featWithout further ado!

Finalists

Michele Herman
Kate McQuade

Honorable Mentions

Michael Alessi, Steve Amick, David Armstrong, Chris Arp, Sarah Batkie, James Bennett, J. Bowers, Mason Boyles, Elizabeth Denton, Darrin Doyle, Andrea Eberly, Emily Franklin, Scott Gloden, Becky Hagenston, Carissa Halston, Simon Han, Rob Hicks, Mark Hitz, Mark Holden, Christian Holt, David Joseph, Bradford Kammin, Rachel Kondo, Kevin Mandel, Terrance Manning Jr., LaTanya McQueen, Sarah Menkedick, Billy Middleton, Christina Milletti, Christopher Mohar, Derek Palacio, Michael Pearce, Karenmary Penn, Todd James Pierce, Maegan Poland, Lara Prescott, Hannah Timmins Reid, Katie Rogin, Anna Rowser, Chad Schuster, Sarah Taggart, J. Duncan Wiley, Hannah Withers, and Rolf Yngve

Schiff Awards Follow-Up!

Monday, October 5th, 2015
Thanks to everyone who entered our seventh annual summer contest. You sent us essays: There was that beautiful meditation on the altered state of motherhood, for example, as well as that investigative, yearning search for a family past erased by slavery. You sent us pitch-perfect comic stories: We got one featuring a computer coder with a suicidal grandma and a girlfriend obsessed with an Amish reality show. (You thought you had problems!) You sent us sharp and lyrical realist stories: We received several heartbreaking and disorienting tales about what it’s like to live with dementia. You sent us imaginative fabulism and odd magical realism: We got many stories that explored gender, including one in which a woman wakes up with a man’s (ahem) hardware. And you sent poems. One of you imagined the sex life of zombies. One of you imagined the sex life of Gollum. Several of you reimagined that original sex scandal in the mythical garden of yore.  You sent us secrets and heartbreaks, childhoods and dreamscapes. You sent lists and villanelles and rondeaux, and a record-breaking number of prose poems. You sent us (vicariously) to the boulevards of Paris, the villas of Italy, the research labs of Antarctica, and the backyards of post-apocalyptic America. We had an embarrassment of riches, and we’re embarrassed we could only pick one winner.

Don Bogen on the winning poem: Jaime Brunton’s “Chase” is the first prose poem to win the Schiff Award and a great example of the genre at its best. Here are some things I especially admire about it.  First, it’s definitely a poem. Neither narrative-driven nor expository, “Chase” can’t be mistaken for flash fiction or a paragraph in an essay. It uses sentences the way a good poem in free verse uses the line: with grace, variety, and special attention to sound. “Chase” revitalizes phrasing, so that the most impersonal, empty constructions—“There is,” “There are”—come to support subtle emotional exploration. What the poem has to say about time, loss, and our hopes for a clear arc in the lives of those we love is marked by discovery and insight. “Chase” is sharp, sensitive, and brilliantly rendered, a standout among prose poems and poems in general.

Michael Griffith on the winning story: Robert Long Foreman’s “Awe” features a documentarian who, adrift after a project gone tragically wrong, has quit his profession and is seeking . . .  well, is seeking renewed access to the sublime, to awe. His bizarre stratagem is to arrange through Craigslist to watch a woman give birth. In Foreman’s nimble hands, Bill’s alternately comic and poignant (mis)adventures with the couple who agree to allow this make for a delightfully askew, surprisingly emotional story.

Check the blog tomorrow for our distinguished list of HONORABLE MENTIONS. (Sorry, meant to announce them today, but there have been logistical . . . complications, and we don’t want to leave anyone out!)

 

Winners of the 7th Annual Schiff Awards!

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

WordOfArt1aOur sincere thanks to those who submitted work to The Cincinnati Review’s summer contest. This year’s field was wildly varied in form and content, and it was difficult to choose from among the many quality entries. In addition to the winning pieces, we have a distinguished list of finalists and honorable mentions, as well as the editors’ comments on the entries and the prize poem and story. Please visit our blog on Monday for more contest content.

Those who participated in the contest will receive a year’s subscription to The Cincinnati Review, beginning with our winter issue, due out in early December, and also including the spring/summer prize issue.

Without further ado, the winners of the seventh annual Robert and Adele Schiff Awards are:

Jaime Brunton for her poem “Chase”

and

Robert Long Foreman for his story “Awe”

 

Don Bogen on C. K. Williams

Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Don Bogen (left); C. K. Williams (right)

Don Bogen (left); C. K. Williams (right)

Though I’d read and taught C. K. Williams’s poetry and even reviewed it for The Nation a long time ago, I never really got to know him until his visits as George Elliston Poet in Residence in the winter of 2014. His reading and talks were wonderful (and can be heard at the Elliston Project website: https://drc.libraries.uc.edu/handle/2374.UC/695985), but what I remember most about his time here are things that go beyond the literary: his engagement with people, his insight, and especially his enthusiasm. Air travel can be exhausting, but he seemed to bring energy with him from the moment he stepped off the plane. Even the traffic jam that socked us in on his last trip back to the airport didn’t faze him: I had one of the most thoughtful—and helpful—conversations ever as I was stuck behind the wheel that afternoon. I was going through a rough patch, and Charlie’s presence made a difference.

You can see some of his vivacity in this picture from a party at the home of my colleagues Jenn Habel and Chris Bachelder. It came out in smaller settings too, like the dinners Charlie and I had at a quiet pan-Asian restaurant in town, some with our current assistant editor, José Angel Araguz. Normally we take Elliston Poets to different restaurants in the evenings after their readings and talks, but Charlie plunged into the Korean, Japanese, and Chinese offerings at this one place and was ready to eat there more or less every night of his residency. Gusto seems the word for his appetite here, both for food and talk. And range. I can’t say we completely covered the menu during his visits, but we came close.

For Charlie, the menu of conversation was inexhaustible, and he approached it with sensitivity, intelligence, and exuberance—more or less the way he approached writing. He’s greatly missed.

Policy Changes

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Two of them. Sensible in nature (at least to us).

Smiling-TreeFirst, as of January 1, 2016, we will no longer consider hard-copy submissions. By that we mean submissions on paper, sent through snail mail. We get so few now, it’s easy to overlook them. We have to remind each other to glance at that teeny little sheaf of sheets on top of the filing cabinet. Interesting to recall that when the mag started over a decade ago, the office centerpiece was a floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with stacks upon stacks—upon stacks upon stacks—of stories, essays, and packets of poetry. Such is progress. Submit electronically. Befriend a tree.

SixSecond, we are reducing the number of poems that can be submitted in a single batch to six. The limit was ten, but we realized we were the only mag in double digits, poem-wise. In an effort to keep things moving, and to encourage writers to shoot us their very best stuff, we’re making our new magic number six. Of course, we’ll grandfather in sets of poems that have already been submitted. As of October 1, however, if submissions contain more than six poems, we’ll read the first six and stop.

Thank you kindly.

Pantoum for the Rejected

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Nicola Mason: Threw this together in response to contributor Michael Robins’s wry Facebook post about summer rejection season. Sensitive subject for writers, and (I can attest) for editors too. In the next few weeks we will steadily work through the hundreds of submissions that built up during our reading period so we can start with a clean slate come fall and keep our response time from snowballing. Because summer is catch-up time for so many journals, writers who submit a lot often get inundated with rejections in a short span. It can be rough, but despite the seeming onslaught,  a “no” simply means your piece wasn’t right for a particular mag at a particular moment. We don’t enjoy rejecting work, but CR moves on, and hopefully so do all of you. In that spirit, I give you my (loose) Pantoum for the Rejected.

The term is over, the halls open.
I do not want to send you a rejection.
The grad staff is off for the summer,
scrabbling for work to make rent.

I do not want to send you a rejection.
The issue is nearly full, but unbalanced.
We like what you sent,
but we’re scrabbling for more creative nonfiction.

The issue is nearly full,
and still Submission Manager is a vasty deep.
We like what you sent
and wish for more pages, more funding.

Submission Manager is a vasty deep,
with life at different leagues.
I wish for more pages, more funding.
I do not want to send you a rejection.